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Martin Penner, a former journalist, has worked for WFP since 2008.
During the second leg of her four-nation trip to Africa, WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeeran visited North Kivu in the east of Democratric Republic of Congo, highlighting the need for support and security to allow displaced Congolese to rebuild their lives.
NYANZALE -- With support and stability, the displaced people of Eastern Congo can build a better future, WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran said on Friday during a visit to camps for Congolese who have been forced to flee their homes due to conflict in the region.
“Where relative peace prevails, WFP is planning to help Congolese communities return to productive lives through innovative programmes that use cash, vouchers and local purchase to support the growing agricultural economy," Sheeran said, adding that the land in the area of North Kivu was extremely fertile.
Sheeran, in Congo on the second leg of a four-nation trip to Africa, visited two camps, 130 km northwest of Goma, with UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres.
The camps highlight some of the most critical work being done by WFP and UNHCR in eastern Congo. Both agencies are supporting populations that have been forced from their land and villages by fighting, as well as preparing them for a better future if peace and stability endures.
WFP is providing food assistance to some 150,000 internally displaced people in North Kivu Province. That includes some 3,900 people living in three camps around Nyanzale. The vast majority of camp dwellers – some 70 percent – are women. Most have lost their husbands and many have been raped during years of violence in eastern Congo.
In the past 15 months, relative stability in some areas has allowed over a million displaced people to return to their villages. Elsewhere, however, there has been significant new displacement. Given this shifting security environment, Sheeran and Guterres warned that decisions relating to the future of UN peacekeepers must take into account their vital support to humanitarian agencies in reaching the displaced in remote and insecure areas.